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Book Review - Second Person Singular
by Sayed Kashua
Sayed Kashua is an Israeli Arab (or is it Arab-Israeli?) writer who writes in Hebrew and has seemingly gained quite a following. I picked up Second Person Singular partly on whim and partly on the premise. I'm glad I did.

Kashua tells the story of an Arab-Israeli lawyer, living in Jerusalem, trying to fit into Israeli society while serving his Palestinian clientele. The lawyer buys a used book and finds in it a note that he is certain was written by his wife. The discovery kicks off an obsessive search for the recipient of the note. The author does a terrific job of portraying jealousy and how trapped we are by our cultural moorings. There is much playing with ideas of identity and fitting into a culture different from the one you were raised in. As with any art originating in that part of the world, SPS has some political commentary, but it is nuanced and non-confrontational. In his portrayal of relationships between the Jewish and Arab peoples of Jerusalem, Kashua's writing reminded me of Naipaul's 'the world is what it is' perspective in A Bend in the River.

There is much to like in this book, I'd rate it right up there with Intimacy by Hanif Kureshi and Kinshu: Autumn Brocade by Teru Miyamoto, two of my favorite 'relationship' novellas.

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